The Relationship Between Middle-Class Parents’ Book-Sharing Discussion and Their Preschoolers’ Abstract Language Development Thirty-five mothers and fathers were videotaped in their homes as they read a familiar and unfamiliar book to their preschoolers aged between 3;6 and 4;1. Parental discussions about the text were coded for four levels of abstraction and correlated with children’s gains one year later on a formal test of ... Research Article
Research Article  |   December 01, 1997
The Relationship Between Middle-Class Parents’ Book-Sharing Discussion and Their Preschoolers’ Abstract Language Development
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Anne van Kleeck, PhD
    Professor and Department Head, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, 516 Aderhold Hall, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602
  • Ronald B. Gillam
    The University of Texas at Austin
  • Lori Hamilton
    San Antonio, TX
  • Cassandra McGrath
    Austin Independent School District Austin, TX
Article Information
Development / School-Based Settings / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   December 01, 1997
The Relationship Between Middle-Class Parents’ Book-Sharing Discussion and Their Preschoolers’ Abstract Language Development
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 1997, Vol. 40, 1261-1271. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4006.1261
History: Received June 27, 1996 , Accepted April 10, 1997
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 1997, Vol. 40, 1261-1271. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4006.1261
History: Received June 27, 1996; Accepted April 10, 1997

Thirty-five mothers and fathers were videotaped in their homes as they read a familiar and unfamiliar book to their preschoolers aged between 3;6 and 4;1. Parental discussions about the text were coded for four levels of abstraction and correlated with children’s gains one year later on a formal test of the same four levels of language abstraction (the Preschool Language Assessment Instrument). Parental input at three of the four levels of abstraction was positively and significantly correlated with their children’s gains at the highest level of abstraction. This was also the level at which children’s scores were the lowest initially and showed the greatest gains. The results suggest that discussions during book reading with preschoolers may be a positive influence, since it was parents’ amount of input at lower as well as higher levels of abstraction that correlated with the children’s development of more abstract language. We speculate that more input at lower levels might enhance learning by creating a climate of success in allowing children to display mastered skills, whereas more input at higher levels might enhance learning by challenging children with abstract language skills they are just beginning to acquire. In contrast to previous research, these results suggest that there is a great deal of variability in middle-class families in the amount of input that children receive at various level of abstractions during book sharing.

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